If you were a fan of popular music in the 1960s and early ’70s, you were a fan of the Wrecking Crew—whether you knew it or not.
On hit record after hit record by everyone from the Byrds, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees to the Grass Roots, the 5th Dimension, Sonny & Cher, and Simon & Garfunkel, this collection of West Coast studio musicians from diverse backgrounds established themselves as the driving sound of pop music—sometimes over the objection of actual band members forced to make way for Wrecking Crew members. Industry insider Kent Hartman tells the dramatic, definitive story of the musicians who forged a reputation throughout the business as the secret weapons behind the top recording stars.
Mining invaluable interviews, the author follows the careers of such session masters as drummer Hal Blaine and keyboardist Larry Knechtel, as well as trailblazing bassist Carol Kaye—the only female in the bunch—who went on to play in thousands of recording sessions. Readers will discover the Wrecking Crew members who would forge careers in their own right, including Glen Campbell and Leon Russell, and learn of the relationship between the Crew and such legends as Phil Spector and Jimmy Webb. Hartman also takes us inside the studio for the legendary sessions that gave us Pet Sounds,Bridge Over Troubled Water, and the rock classic “Layla,” which Wrecking Crew drummer Jim Gordon cowrote with Eric Clapton for Derek and the Dominos. And the author recounts priceless scenes such as Mike Nesmith of the Monkees facing off with studio head Don Kirshner, Grass Roots lead guitarist (and future star of The Office) Creed Bratton getting fired from the group, and Michel Rubini unseating Frank Sinatra’s pianist for the session in which the iconic singer improvised the hit-making ending to “Strangers in the Night.”
The Wrecking Crew tells the collective, behind-the-scenes stories of the artists who dominated Top 40 radio during the most exciting time in American popular culture.
About Kent Hartman
KENT HARTMAN is a longtime music industry entrepreneur who has worked with dozens of well-known artists, including Three Dog Night, Steppenwolf, Hall & Oates, Counting Crows, and Lyle Lovett. He has written for American Heritage,The Oregonian, and Portland Tribune. Hartman teaches marketing at Portland State University and for several years produced The Classic Comedy Break, a nationwide radio feature. He lives in Portland.
“A fascinating look into the West Coast recording studio scene of the 60s and the inside story of the music you heard on the radio. If you always assumed the musicians you listened to were the same people you saw on stage, you are in for a big surprise!”—Dusty Street, legendary radio air talent (KMPX, KSAN, KROQ) and current host of “Classic Vinyl,” broadcast live around the world from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Sirius/XM
“From 1962 to 1975, one group of studio players, the Wrecking Crew, provided the tracks for records as various as “He’s a Rebel,” “Surfer Girl,” “California Dreamin’,” “MacArthur Park,” ”Classical Gas,” and “Bridge over Troubled Water.” Industry insider Hartman opens our eyes to this fascinating group of musicians, tracing the careers of three members of this group—Glen Campbell, Carol Smith, Hal Blaine—who shared little more than an innate inner drive, musical talent, and a work ethic shaped by grinding poverty. Campbell, for example, lit out on the road when he was 13 to play guitar. Eight years later, Campbell joined the Champs, whose “Limbo Rock” Chubby Checker would soon record as “The Twist.” In 1962, Phil Spector gathered Campbell, Smith, Blaine, Billy Strange, Bill Pitman, and seven other highly skilled session musicians to lay down the tracks for “Zip-a-Dee-Do-Dah,” added the voices of Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans, and a #1 record and the Wrecking Crew were born. Hartman also traces the work of later members of the Crew such as Leon Russell, Larry Knechtel, and Jim Gordon, as well as the successful solo careers of Campbell and Russell. Hartman’s fast-paced tale offers dazzling insights into a little known chapter of rock and roll history.”—Publishers Weekly
“In Los Angeles in 1960s-70s, if you wanted to record a chart-topping track or album, you called in the crack session musicians colectively known as the Wrecking Crew. Consisting of artists unknown outside the music industry, like drummer Hal Blaine and bass player Carol Kaye, as well as those who would go on to recording fame of tehir own, such as Glenn Campbell and Leon Russell, the Wrecking Crew was the West Coast’s cream of the crop of session players, backing top-notch hit makers Phil Spector, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, and many more. Hartman (marketing, Portland State Univ.), who has worked with many well-known recording artists including Hall & Oates, Three Dog Night, and Lyle Lovett, tells the group’s definitive story with a music industry insider’s insight and enthusiasm. The only other work on these behind-the-scenes pros is Blaine’s Hal Blaine and the Wrecking Crew, which is more narrowly focused on the experiences of the stalwart drummer. Verdict: Recommended for readers interested in popular music and the music industry, particularly West Coast pop and classic rock.”—Library Journal
Rockers With Low Profiles and Perfect Timing
The New York Times Book Review – February 19, 2012 (Excerpt)
The recent Grammy Awards featured separate segments honoring the long careers of the Beach Boys and Glen Campbell. The show didn’t mention that Mr. Campbell toured and played as a Beach Boy in the mid-1960s, before the start of his solo career. In those days Mr. Campbell was one of the all-purpose studio musicians who were loosely known as the Wrecking Crew. They are the subject of Kent Hartman’s nostalgic, book-length hagiography, which has the glib but potent excitement of a collection of greatest hits.
The Wrecking Crew was not supposed to attract attention. Groups like the Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Monkees and many others didn’t care to point out why they sounded so much better on records than on the road. But Wrecking Crew members could work miracles, like the time when, with only three minutes’ worth of studio time allotted them, they played a first-take, no-glitch version of “The Little Old Lady From Pasadena.” As Roy Halee, Simon and Garfunkel’s engineer and co-producer, once said of a top Wrecking Crew bassist: “You never have to stop the tape because of a mistake by Joe Osborn. There just aren’t any.” [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith. - 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
We are the only country that makes guns, including military-style assault weapons, available to anyone who wants to buy them. This is not freedom. It is a tyranny of death and destruction — a tyranny of which the National Rifle Association is proud. The Washington Post
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